How To Rid Your Kitchen of Lingering Fish Smells

These are our new go-to DIY tips.

Cooking Fish
Photo: SSC / Getty Images

Fish is delicious and nutritious, but cooking can make the entire house smell. Don't let thoughts of that lingering stench keep you from cooking fish at home, even if you think the smell may still hover long after you finish washing the dishes. Some DIY techniques help eliminate or improve the fishy smells from cooking some of your favorite at-home seafood meals. Here is a guide to ridding your kitchen of lingering odors before, during, and after cooking fish.

What To Do Before Cooking Fish

Buy Fresh Fish

For starters, no piece of uncooked fish should be pungent. If you're overwhelmed by a foul or fishy smell when removing it from its packaging, toss it immediately. A repulsive odor means the fish isn't fresh and could be unsafe to eat. As a general rule, fish shouldn't smell until prepared.

Open a Window

Another trick for preparing your home to cook fish is to keep the air circulating before, during, and after preparing your meal. If weather permits, open a window or try a fan.

What To Do During Cooking Fish

Choose Your Cooking Method Carefully

It's also important to remember that a fish's "smell level" depends on how you choose to cook it. As Reader's Digest suggests, frying can be an especially stinky method of preparing fish, while other techniques, like cooking in foil or paper, can minimize lingering smells.

Wrap the Fish

Wrapping fish is a great way to contain its scent, even when discarding leftovers or unused pieces. Another option is to remove fish waste immediately from your house to place it in a garbage bag or sink disposal.

Smoky-Sweet Baked Salmon in Parchment
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

What To Do After Cooking Fish

Use Vinegar

Good Housekeeping has a brilliant DIY solution for vanquishing unwanted odors if the stink has already seeped into your surroundings. Mix three tablespoons of white vinegar and one cup of water in a saucepan, and boil for several minutes. Vinegar is acidic, and odors are alkaline, allowing it to neutralize smells.

Use Spices

There are several other odor-eliminating suggestions to try. In addition to vinegar, McCormick's, the flavor creator, proposes using simmering spices to rid your kitchen of those unwanted lingering smells. Some spices include ground ginger and cinnamon sticks. Simmer these in water for at least 15 minutes.

Use Lemons

Another popular smell-neutralizer is lemon, according to Homes.com. Try grinding biodegradable citrus peels like oranges, lemons, or limes and placing them in the garbage disposal to remove any remaining scents.

Lemony Baked Cod, Potatoes, and Artichokes in Parchment
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

What To Do if Fish Smells Persist

Light a Candle

If all else fails, you can try to light a candle to counteract the fish smells. Try something with a pleasant scent, such as lemon or lavender, but avoid ultra-fragrant candles. Overwhelming your home with an intense floral candle can combine with the fish scent, which would create an opposite effect.

Bake Something New

According to Odors Away, baking something sweet, like cookies or the perfect dessert to complement your fish entree, can replace the fishy smell with something new—and much more pleasant.

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